Thursday, June 05, 2008

Charter School Success 

Charter schools are designed as alternatives to standard public high schools. They must take all students who wish to attend. If there are more applications than slots available, a lottery is held - at least in Georgia.

This article tells the story of Tech High Charter School's first four years in existence. They average cost of education for Atlanta Public Schools (APS) is $13,500/student; Tech, $6,000/student. Tech High started in the 2004-5 school year with 100 students. The attitude of the administration was clear: Because the entering 9th grade students were reading and doing 5th grade level math, some of the more ambitious technology projects were put on hold in favor of some old-fashioned fundamentals.

Yes, you have to do your homework.
Yes, you have to wear a uniform (nothing exotic: khaki pants, and any solid-colored shirt with a collar and no words on it).
Yes, you have to shut up when the teacher is talking.
Yes, we're going to hire teachers who actually give a damn about the students.
What are the results? Of the 50,000 students who attend the other schools in APS (no comparative drop-out rate was given), maybe one per year gets into Georgia Tech; for Tech High, of the 43 who decided the environment was worth the work and made it through the four years, three are getting into Georgia Tech - no preferences.

One might think Atlanta would be proud of this accomplishment - nah - it flies in the face of all the educational pabulum that's been spewed for the last 40 years by far too many school administrations as to why kids fail. If and when the public school systems start looking at what it takes for kids to succeed instead of making excuses for failure, THEN we will be servicing our kids. Until then, we're wasting money. Our kids are not learning what they need to succeed in life. And talented children born into stressful circumstances are denied the opportunity to succeed by a system that gives priority to the interest of the job-security minded adults.